Hormones are substances that your organism produces and that help control many processes inside the human body. There are many different kinds of hormones, and they all function within certain ranges to preserve your health. If your hormone levels are too low or too high, you can develop signs of hormone dysregulation. These symptoms will vary depending on the exact cause of the issue.
Read this article to learn more about hormonal imbalance in women.
What is a hormonal imbalance?
According to the Cleveland Clinic, a hormonal imbalance occurs when your levels of certain hormones are abnormal. This can happen when you have too little or too much of a hormone. The term “hormonal imbalance” encompasses a wide range of conditions that can range from mild and asymptomatic, to severe and life-threatening.
Since hormones help regulate so many different processes, a hormonal imbalance can disrupt different areas of your health. The most common hormonal imbalances in women involve estrogen and progesterone, which are sex hormones produced by the ovaries. But you can also suffer from other causes of hormone imbalance, such as:
- High prolactin levels (hyperprolactinemia)
- High cortisol levels (Cushin’s syndrome)
- Low cortisol levels (Addison’s disease)
- Adult-onset growth hormone deficiency
Menopause can also be considered a natural cause of hormonal imbalance in women. According to The North American Menopause Society, hormone changes are responsible for many symptoms that women experience during menopause. Levels of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone all decrease during this stage in life. Despite the fact that menopause is a natural part of life, it’s important to keep in mind that certain treatments can help relieve uncomfortable symptoms and increase your quality of life.
Hormone imbalances can stem from different causes, including:
- Chronic stress
- Certain medications
- Genetic factors
- Chronic diseases
- Steroid use
- Tumors or other growths
- Damage to an endocrine gland
- Autoimmune diseases
Symptoms of hormone imbalance in women
As we mentioned above, the symptoms of hormonal dysfunction will change depending on the affected hormone. However, estrogen and progesterone are the most common causes of hormone imbalance symptoms in women.
According to EndocrineWeb, symptoms chemical imbalance in women can include:
- Weight gain or weight loss
- Increased sensitivity to heat or cold
- Excessive sweating
- Dry skin
- Increased body hair
- Hair loss
- Brittle nails and hair
- Changes in your heart rate
- Breast tenderness
- Increased or decreased appetite
- Sleeping problems
- Mood changes
- Low libido
One of the most common causes of hormone imbalance in women is polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). According to the Mayo Clinic, PCOS happens when your ovaries produce excessive androgens or male sex hormones, leading to hormonal imbalance symptoms in females. Signs of PCOS can include:
- Irregular or absent periods
- Fertility problems
- Severe acne
- Male-pattern baldness
- Excessive facial and body hair (hirsutism)
- Weight gain
- Increased appetite
- Abnormal blood sugar levels
How to check for a hormone imbalance
The best way that you can test for hormonal imbalances will vary depending on the hormone that is affected, and the underlying condition that is causing the dysfunction.
According to MedlinePlus, hormone testing can be used if you’re showing symptoms that could be caused by too much or too little of a hormone. The most common types of samples that can be used for hormone imbalance tests include:
- Blood sample
- Urine sample
- Saliva sample
Your healthcare provider may order different hormone tests depending on your symptoms, and medical and family history. They may also perform a thorough physical examination or order further testing to determine the cause of the problem.
Hormone levels test results can vary depending on certain factors, such as your age, gender, medications you take, and chronic diseases. It’s important to discuss your test results with a healthcare professional so you can understand what your results mean and the impact they may have on your health.
At-home hormone level tests allow you to take your samples from the comfort of your own home. Most of these test kits use saliva and fingerstick blood samples, which can be easily collected. Depending on the provider, you may be asked to mail your samples back to the company or drop them off at a certified lab for testing. You will also receive professional guidance to discuss your at-home test results.
Women hormonal imbalance treatment
Some hormonal imbalances are temporary and resolve on their own after some time; however, many causes of chronic hormone dysfunction do require medical treatment. Additionally, your doctor could recommend certain lifestyle chances, such as losing weight or eating a healthier diet.
Female hormone imbalance: FAQ
Can hormonal imbalance cause fatigue?
Yes, fatigue and hormonal imbalances can be related. However, there are many other conditions that can cause fatigue, and it’s important to rule out other diagnoses.
Can hormonal imbalance cause nausea?
Yes, some types of hormonal imbalance can cause nausea and other gastrointestinal symptoms, such as diarrhea, constipation, gastroesophageal reflux or heartburn, and vomiting. In other cases, the symptoms can be caused by medications used to treat hormonal dysfunction.
Can your hormones make you feel sick?
Yes. Everyone feels sick every now and then, but hormone imbalances can make you feel sick frequently. If you experience symptoms that may be caused by a hormone problem, seek medical assistance.
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Hormonal Imbalance - my.clevelandclinic.org
Changes in Hormone Levels - menopause.org
Understanding and Managing Hormone Imbalance - endocrineweb.com
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) - mayoclinic.org
Estrogen Levels Test - medlineplus.gov